Friday, May 13, 2005

The Name Game

Renaming places that have perfectly serviceable names is the costly new sport. The name of the gentleman who wishes to rename everything after Ronald Reagan escapes me (I suppose the renaming of National Airport was the beginning of that odyssey); this guy apparently misses the irony of spending vast public sums for projects to be renamed after a person who wanted government to spend as little as possible.

Other local entities affected by this fever include Metro, which in recent years has lengthened the names of some of its stations to the point of absurdity, confusing no small number of passengers. (By the way, Woodley Park and Adams Morgan are a bit further apart than the station name might lead one to believe, but I realize that I'm just being picky.)

The most recent outbreak of this affliction is the renaming of BWI Airport. Actually, it's another extension. (Uh oh.) As of October 1 of this year, it will officially be the "BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport" if the change is approved by Maryland's Board of Public Works. I might be happy about something being named after Marshall--after all, he is an American hero--if the airport had just been built and was originally named after him, because then we'd be referring to it as "Marshall Airport." Significant legislative energy and expenditures were, unfortunately, wasted on this gesture, as no one will refer to it as "Marshall Airport," as we've been calling the place BWI Airport all these years. According to the Washington Post (5/11/05, page B5), changes to the airport's signs will be about $2.1 million. Moreover, there was no logical reason to name an airport after him, as we don't particularly associate Marshall with the field of aviation. This situation is unlike the naming of the law library at the University of Maryland; naming its law library after Marshall could be considered a stroke of poetic justice, as he had been rejected by the university's law school decades earlier.

The renaming of BWI Airport, sadly, won't accomplish what was intended--honoring the life of that great man, Thurgood Marshall.

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